Utah Not Immune from Bear Attack Lawsuit

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The Utah Supreme Court recently ruled that the state of Utah is not immune from a lawsuit brought by the family of Sam Ives. In 2007, Sam was camping with his family in American Fork Canyon when he was attacked and killed by a black bear. The Salt Lake Tribune has a write up about the Utah Supreme Court ruling.

Sam was camping with his mother, stepfather and half-brother in a campground above the Timpanooke Recreation Area on June 17, 2007, when a bear sliced through his tent, pulled him out and mauled him to death. Earlier that day, the bear had attacked another group of campers, and authorities were unsuccessful in finding the bear.

The family argues that the Forest Service and the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources had a duty to warn the family that there was a dangerous bear in the area and that it had attacked the site at which they camped. They also argue the campground should have been closed until the bear was killed.


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Glad to see I am not the only

Glad to see I am not the only one who has taken a liking to our newest member. lol

People are looking for a way to make a quick buck these days.  It is very sad that this guy was killed, but it was a wild animal.  It is unpredictable, and the only way to totally seal yourself off from something like this is to not step out of your house.  Once you enter that bears domain, you are at his mercy, so to speak. 

Maybe they could have "warned" the public a little better about a rogue bear, but the family has to take some responsibility.

hawkeye270's picture

All good points CVC. I guess

All good points CVC. I guess this can just be linked with the fact that so many people in this country have lost a since of responsibility for themselves. This society should be known as the lawsuit society. It seems like you can sue anyone for just about anything these days and have a fair shot at being successful. It is scary when you think about it. I am glad that we have made some steps forward with the bogus law suits that were brought against the firearms industry. Anyways, back to this specific example. I am with you, I am not sure what kind of person it takes to believe that the government will or can protect them from wild animals or nature in general. This is an extension of this responsibility fearing society and a general ignorance towards the dangers of the natural world that we have become more and more disconnected from.

CVC's picture

Hawkeye, I suppose it is

Hawkeye, I suppose it is because we live in a country that requires a warning label of cup of coffee advising that the hot coffee you just bought is indeed hot. Or the disclaimers on some of the ads or shows on tv protecting morons from trying to duplicate what they see.

My guide told me that he and a client got menaced by a grizzly one time when they spent the night on the mountain.  I know there are grizzlies in the mountains...it is the risk you take and adds to the hunt actually.  If I got eaten by a grizzly while hunting i would hope my family wouldn't sue because it happens.

People just need to understand that the government can't protect you from everything and as you said, we need to take personal responsibility.

CVC's picture

Hello?  Bearlover, you

Hello?  Bearlover, you reading this????

First, I am glad the state cannot claim immunity.  The state should be able to be sued just like anyone else.  It might make the state think about how they act and treat the people they are supposed to serve (yes, I know suing the state is suing me too, but so be it).

Now, with that out of the way, let me get to my real thoughts.  Give me a friggin' break!!  People, unless you are a total moron, you should know that wild animals pose a danger whenever you are in their "living room."  How can the government prevent a wild animal from attacking you?

People get stung by bees, bit by snakes, get poison ivy, attacked by mountain goats and so on on government land.  How can the government protect you from the wildlife which you go to see?  protect yourself and use common sense when out in nature.

I am sorry for this family's loss, but I hope that if they pursue this lawsuit that they have to pay legal fees if they lose.  It is a frivolous and a waste of our tax dollars to bring this lawsuit.


hawkeye270's picture

Wait a second, hold the

Wait a second, hold the phone... a black bear attacked a person and even killed them. Someone needs to get a hold of our fantastic new member Bear_Lover aka numb skull and let them know that their ignorant mindset just might be incorrect... imagine that. That is horrible and I am not sure I remember hearing about this specific attack. As far as the state being responsible I am not quite sure what I think about that. Yes... that camp ground should have been closed until that bear was taken care of... trapped and relocated or killed based on that states policy for dealing with trouble bears. The thing that strikes me is the fact that they did not atleast close the specific site that it had attacked the day prior. It is fairly common knowledge that a bear will return to the same exact place that it has gotten a food reward. The bears that we were dealing with over the summer in Rocky Mountain National Park were good examples. We made sure to note if the bear had gotten a food reward or not. If it had, we were much more aggressive about dealing with the bear because we knew it would return. I would say 90% of the bears that got food rewards returned to the area of the incident within a day.